In this newly expanded role, Tolman will continue to advance research in Arts & Sciences as well as entrepreneurial activities such as translation, commercialization, and public dissemination of research, scholarship, and creative practice.
Dean Feng Sheng Hu has named William B. Tolman vice dean of research and entrepreneurship in Arts & Sciences. Tolman is the William Greenleaf Eliot Professor of Chemistry.
Tolman steps into this new role at a time of unprecedented momentum for Arts & Sciences, with both the school and the university engaged in strategic planning. This expanded version of Tolman's previous role, which went into effect July 1, will create more support for research initiatives and also brings a new focus on innovation and entrepreneurship. Going forward, Tolman will support faculty in the translation, commercialization, and public dissemination of research, scholarship, and creative practice. He will also continue efforts to elevate the research enterprise of Arts & Sciences, including serving as a resource for faculty as they identify funding opportunities, develop competitive grant proposals, and advance their scholarship.
"I’m inspired by the strategic plans that are being developed for our school and the broader university, and I look forward to collaborating with the A&S community to build our research and entrepreneurial capacities," said Tolman.
"In addition to doing work that has intrinsic and educational value, we should also aim to do research and scholarship that has real-world impact,” he added. Tolman aims to help realize these impacts – which may include outgrowths like new inventions, products, companies, or organizations, for example – through enhancing infrastructure, developing new interdisciplinary programs and centers, and providing support for faculty- and student-led creative efforts.
In his previous role as associate dean of research, Tolman partnered with Dzenana Mruckovski, director of A&S facilities, and colleagues in the Office of the Vice Chancellor for Research to ensure that plans and protocols were in place so that critical laboratory research could continue during the COVID-19 pandemic. Recently, Tolman has begun work to bolster the school's competitiveness for large, collaborative grants by helping faculty identify opportunities for synergistic research that cut across multiple areas, capitalize on existing disciplinary strengths, and address some of the world's most pressing challenges. In Tolman's new role, he will serve on the dean's senior leadership team and will build on this groundwork to further elevate Arts & Sciences as an internationally recognized liberal arts school with a world-class research enterprise.
Tolman's own research focuses on using inorganic, biological, and polymer chemistry to address important problems related to human health and the environment. He is a founding member of the NSF Center for Sustainable Polymers and serves as a senior investigator with the center, which was recently awarded a $20 million grant renewal. Tolman and his team have published more than 200 papers in peer-reviewed journals. He is also editor-in-chief of the American Chemical Society journal Inorganic Chemistry and a fellow of both the American Chemical Society and the American Association for the Advancement of Science.
"Bill has the vision we need at this pivotal moment to advance our efforts in research, scholarship, and creative practice," said Hu. "He is an impressive scholar who has the ability and experience to identify avenues for growth and to put those plans into action. I’ve appreciated having Bill on my leadership team this past year and am looking forward to working with him in this expanded capacity.”